The Star-News


Eye-to-eye on eyewear

Sat, Apr 19 2014 12:00 PM Posted By: Carlos R. Davalos

National City Police Chief Manuel Rodriguez and my father must have both attended the same school of common sense.

Years ago my old man told me — warned me, perhaps — that I would never win a disagreement with a cop. It was almost 100 percent guaranteed that if I, or anyone, were to have an argument with a cop on the street, I would always lose. Better to shut your mouth, sign the ticket and fight the battle in court.

To an extent Rodriguez said the same thing. In all his years of policing he has yet to see the person who bested the man or woman carrying a badge and a gun.

He made the remark during a panel discussing the rights of the public and journalists to photograph police doing their job. Long story short, the public has the right to record police in a public setting as long as they are not impeding the cop from doing his job or putting someone in harm’s way.

There are instances, however, when police and the public don’t see eye-to-eye about First Amendment rights and thus conflicts ensue. Hence, the admonition: on the street you’ll never win an argument with a cop.

Coincidentally, the panel was held the same day technophiles and ubergeeks were slobbering themselves across the country.

The must-have gift item for the creeper who has everything — Google Glass — was on sale Tuesday only.

No doubt the NSA and police agencies were taking note of the gizmoheads and status seekers willing to fork over $1,500 for a pair of all-seeing, all-knowing, all-recording eyewear.

The technology and its eventual ubiquitous availability is a blessing and a curse.

For thugs and crooks, the glasses that record on command mean that while an eyewitnesses recollection of a crime may be cast into the valley of doubt, a recording of a carjacking will speak for itself.

Likewise, the schmuck who accuses a cop of roughing him up and points to the bruises on his face as evidence will have some explaining to do when an officer’s eyewear reveals the suspect rocketed himself into the hood of a cruiser.

But at the same time the glasses will also provide the public with another way to document the behavior and actions of police in everyday settings. And though they can ask you to stop recording while they issue a ticket for disorderly conduct, the circumstances in which police can lawfully compel you to stop are few and narrow.

Nevertheless, just be aware that while you’re going around in your nifty new specs and you’re documenting what you think is police misconduct and a cop tells you to stop, while you probably don’t legally have to, there’s a 50-50 chance you’ll lose that disagreement.

Like it or not, the badge and the gun trumps all, even techno-hip all-seeing glasses.


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